Skip to main content

About The Project

Le Quesnoy is a truly special place for New Zealanders to visit. We share a history that goes back over 100 years, which has led to intergenerational friendships, alive to this day. Now we can share a future too.

The New Zealand Liberation Museum – Te Arawhata opened 11 October 2023, in Le Quesnoy. It tells the unique story of a liberation by ladder, while also honouring all New Zealanders who fought in Europe in WWI.

 This uniquely New Zealand place in the very heart of this French town provides an opportunity for connection and reflection for all who visit, wherever they come from. The universally human stories of courage and sacrifice, when ordinary people find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, takes visitors on an emotional, engaging, and educative journey, told with the values of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Our Place

Like other WWI allies in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, and the USA who have their own museums and visitor centres on the Western Front following WWI, New Zealand now has a place where people can gather to remember, connect, reflect, share and engage. 

New Zealand has three battlefield memorials on the Western Front at Longueval (France), Messines and Gravenstafel (Belgium), and a fourth sculptured plaque on the rampart at Le Quesnoy – near where the New Zealand soldiers scaled the wall by ladder. All are poignant sites to remember what happened at these places of significance for the New Zealand Division. We have built respectfully on that legacy and have created a Living Memorial in Le Quesnoy. An immersive and interactive experience, it is a place where people can gather to remember, connect, reflect, share and engage.

This is our place to stand as New Zealanders, our foundation, our place in the world, our home – our tūrangawaewae in France. And a place for people from all over the globe to learn a little more about us.

Applying a Te Ao Māori lens, initially led by Karl Johnstone and Joe Pihema, has been central to realising the visitor experience conceptual approach. The approach focuses the visitor on universal human ideas and, at their heart, personal stories that connect us all to each other, past and present. These are stories of courage, sacrifice and humanity. Narratives that show the human face of fighting for freedom, finding friendship, and forging a future free from war. Stories that move people to perhaps reflect inwardly on their own lives, and outwardly on the world they live in.

Heke mai

Wētā Workshop

For over 30 years, Wētā Workshop has applied their innovation and artistry to the world’s creative industries. Over this time, Sir Richard Taylor has led a world-renowned and uncompromising team of artists, technicians, and master craftspeople, most recently creating material for the Dubai World Expo. Now their talents have been applied to designing the Living Memorial visitor experience at Le Quesnoy. 

They have created a powerfully emotive experience about New Zealand’s journey on the other side of the world. Wētā Workshop are the creators of the record-breaking Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War (Karipori: Te Pakanga Nui) exhibition in collaboration with the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. This emotive exhibition has seen three million guests through its doors, engaging people with the human reality of WWI.  

As Wētā Workshop notes, “thought-provoking, and emotional experiences can be created without compromising historical accuracy. History is the story of people, and those stories should be told clearly and faithfully.” Wētā Workshop’s location based experiences division has weaved its magic at Le Quesnoy, 

“Having the opportunity to bring such a significant piece of Kiwi history to the fore is very special. The stories are rich and compelling, and we want to help people connect with them in a meaningful way through reflection and discussion about what happened in this little French town over 100 years ago." Sir Richard Taylor - Wētā Workshop CEO and Creative Director.

Project Team

Renovating a gracious 1890s manor house in France, while concurrently creating a visitor experience in New Zealand to go inside it and around it, has required a project team on both sides of the globe, working in unison.

These links below show you the project structure, the people involved with the trust and its purpose, and current contractors to the project

Te patunga tapu
Nga tangata


Renovating an 1890s building and staying true to its beautiful beginnings while ensuring it is also fit for purpose for today and beyond, has not been an insubstantial task. 

The first phase of extensive renovation (an almost 12 month building period) was completed by May 2023. 

Wētā Workshop installed the visitor experience mid-year 2023.  The formal opening was held over two days 10-11 October 2023.    

Sign up to our newsletter.

Full Name(Required)